Anybody who has taken the time to read a few of my stories knows that I don’t work by a set formula. I’m always experimenting with different narratives styles, with different kinds of stories, and with variations on the standard story formula of “introduction, conflict, resolution.” I sometimes use outlines, and sometimes I don’t. I like writing about all kinds of characters, and I don’t have a standard type of character that I rely on to carry the stories. I don’t even have a set genre that I prefer to stick with.
I don’t have to write for money, and this is a luxury which allows me to write stories for myself, and for the artistic merit of creating something new and (hopefully) exciting. But sometimes, an idea just doesn’t work for me, even if the initial premise sounded good.
An example of this is an idea I had a few months back for a story about a straight guy trying to fake being bisexual to get into a breeding program in a post-global-flood Orgeon. This sounded funny when I first came up with it, but ultimately, I gave up and moved on.
Tonight, while talking to hubby, I noticed a pattern in my premise pitches. Almost all of them start out with me saying, “You know what would be funny?” Then I deliver a one line joke. I start to elaborate on that joke, and an outline builds in my head. By the time I’m ready to write, I’ve dropped the idea that I want to be funny, and I just aim to tell the story as it plays out.
I’m now two thirds of the way through a story experiment, Zombie Punter. It started off based on the idea that two friends who grew up planning for a zombie invasion finally have a chance to test out all of their theories when a zombie outbreak occurs. I thought the premise was about two guys killing zombies in humorous ways. But as usual, within a few paragraphs, I knew that wasn’t the case at all.
This is one of the experiments that hasn’t blown up in my face. It’s bold, and very different from anything I’ve done before. It features a first person, past tense perspective, where I typically do third person, past tense for the narration.
The main character is a gay male, and yeah, there’s some gay sex in the story. Will it turn some people off of my writing? Yeah, probably. But I didn’t write this for them, and I don’t write for the money. I write to enjoy the act of creation. I write to celebrate the joy of experimentation.
If, at some point, paychecks and fame come as a result of my writing, I will certainly not complain. But until then, I’m having a blast just mixing different word potions to see what happens. The worst that can happen is that I end up with a storyso bad that I cringe when I read it. And when that happens, don’t worry, I won’t torture you with it. I’ll just save it on my hard drive, for the days when my ego swells and I think “is there nothing I can do wrong?”
Then I read some of my crappier ideas and remember, yes, sometimes experiments can blow up.